Nurses applaud new three-year deal that addresses patient and nurse safety, retention concerns
CINCINNATI, Ohio – Members of the Registered Nurses Association, a local union of the Ohio Nurses Association, overwhelmingly ratified a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the University of Cincinnati Medical Center Saturday afternoon. The nurses have been bargaining with the Medical Center since March, and were successful in using their union platform to address issues plaguing the hospital, such as retention, safe nurse staffing and patient care.
“Both parties recognized and wanted resolution to these issues, which is why we were successful in bargaining a fair and reasonable contract that our members overwhelmingly agreed with,” stated Jeannette Porter, RN, union president.
“We addressed a major concern with our old on-call system that, if continued, could have negatively impacted safe nurse staffing and patient care. On-call should be used for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances, like call-offs or influxes in patients. With the new contract language, on-call will only be used for such unanticipated situations instead of as a staffing tool that could lend itself to nurse fatigue,” continued Porter. “As a deterrent for going back to the ‘old way,’ nurses will be paid a premium if they are called in for inappropriate situations. The hospital will now staff nurses appropriately from the start.”
Nurse fatigue is a consequence of short staffing and/or long hours, both of which can compromise patient care. Insufficient staffing and long hours can lead to higher mortality rates and readmissions, and increase the likelihood of medical errors.
Pertaining to wages, Porter explained, “Because of the outstanding work of our member-led bargaining team, our members will realize an average of a 5.7% wage increase in the first year of the contract. Additionally, our nurses at the top of the wage scale will not only receive a base pay increase, but a one-time longevity bonus combined equals 2.5% of their salary.”
Nurses who enter the float pool will also receive hefty pay differentials, ranging from an additional $10 to $20 per hour added to their base, depending upon the day and hours worked.
“Under the new terms, a four-year nurse who enters the float pool has the potential to realize an outstanding 82% increase in salary from what they are earning today,” stated Porter.
The wage increases, float pool changes and on-call language are a huge win for both the union and the medical center, with Porter stating, “We pushed for these issues to be addressed so we could remain competitive with other hospitals in the area. Both parties want to keep quality and skilled nurses at UCMC, and the new contract will positively impact our recruitment and retention efforts,” stated Porter.
The new agreement expires June 30, 2021 and goes into effect July 1, 2018.